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Cunningham, James (Jim) (1850–1921)

from Queanbeyan Age (NSW)

James Cunningham, n.d.

James Cunningham, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 January 1922

By the death of James (Jim) Cunningham, of Lanyon, the district loses a man it can ill afford. He was a worthy representative of the type of pastoralist to which Australia owes so much for its remarkable position as the world's greatest producer of merino wools, a position which accounts for the major part of our national wealth to-day. These men by their foresight, their enterprising industry and their determination to succeed were able to overcome the innumerable difficulties which obstructed the path of those who first grappled with a reluctant nature. James Cunningham was a man who played his part in a quiet unobstrusive way in making his district and his country a better place to live in than he found it. And to all such men the people as a whole owe their grateful thanks.

The late James Cunningham was born at Lanyon in the year 1850. His father, Andrew Cunningham, had purchased the property some two or three years previously from another worthy pioneer James Wright and Lanyon was the family home until after the father's death in 1887 when a division of the estate was made, James taking Tuggranong and his brother, Andrew J., acquiring Lanyon. Many years later on, after the death of Andrew, the old home came into James' hands and he and his family have since resided at Lanyon. His other stations Tidbinbilla and Tuggranong  a few years back were resumed by the federal Government, the latter being now the residence of Capt. C. E. W. Bean the official war historian. Tindery Station towards the head of the Queanbeyan River forms part of the estate.

The late James Cunningham spent his life of three score years and ten in this district. In that long span he gained the respect and affection of friends and acquaintances. He was a kindly upright gentleman, a generous employer and a man with whom it was a pleasure to have any business transaction.

Tuggranong had always been noted for high quality merino sheep, the late Mr. Cunningham believing in paying big money for the best rams to maintain the standard to which he worked. Tuggranong sheep therefore were much sought after. In horses he bred some fine bloods as well as draughts and in the sale yards it was always a criteron of value to say "this is a Tuggranong horse." In his younger days he was a great horseman both as a buck jump rider and over the sticks. A rider too who did not want the help of a "Wagga" saddle with six inch pads but who contented himself with a "poley” no matter how rough the outlaw.

Among his many public activities he gave lengthy support to the Pastures Protection Board being a member of some 33 years and occupying the chair for several terms. The work of the Board he looked on as of great importance, particularly where it dealt with combatting the rabbit pest. He recognised many years back that the man on the land cannot successfully grow stock and feed rabbits and he was the first man in this district to deal in a comprehensive way with the rabbit. On Tuggranong large sums were spent in netting, in burning off harbour and in digging out, but it was Mr. Cunningham's boast that so quickly did the country recover and so largely was its carrying capacity increased that he was repaid his outlay of well over five figures inside three years.

The P. & A. Association was another institution to which the deceased gave many years support frequently acting as president and pushing the interest of the association, with both time and money. He was also president of the Race Club, a generous supporter and committee man of the hospital and a Freemason of long standing.

The deceased had been ailing for some years and his end was not unexpected. He died at Bondi on 28th December the body being brought by train to Queanbeyan for interment at the Lanyon private cemetery. A heavy storm at midday on Thursday prevented many townspeople and district friends from attending, some being held up by the sudden rising of the Woden creek, but notwithstanding a large number arrived to show their respect to the deceased. The oak casket was carried by relays of six mourners from Lanyon house to the graveside where Rev. S. J. West of Christ Church conducted the funeral service. Some beautiful wreaths were laid on the grave, amongst the cards of sympathy attached being: P. A. Campbell (Woden), Sister Ryan, Harrison Jones and Devlin, H. H. Roxbrough, J. E. Monk, E. Morrison, G. Mason Allard, J. M. Jackson, Mrs. McCarthy, Wor. Master, Officers and Brethren of Masonic Lodge, Queanbeyan.

Mr. Cunningham's widow is the eldest daughter of Mr. E. Twynam of "Riversdale," Goulburn. He leaves also a family of seven children, Andrew J. Cunningham who served in the late war with considerable brilliancy in Palestine and Gallipoli receiving his captaincy in the Australian Light Horse, Mr. James E. T. Cunningham and Mr. Alexander W. Cunningham. The daughters are Griselda D. wife of Major C. S. Davies, Joan, wife of Major R. H. Nimmo, Mary, wife of Major W. A. Dunlop, and one single, Miss Unity Alexandra.

Original publication

  • Queanbeyan Age (NSW), 4 January 1922, p 2

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Citation details

'Cunningham, James (Jim) (1850–1921)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/cunningham-james-jim-278/text1745, accessed 25 August 2019.

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